David Cameron welcomes the Queen to Cabinet table
Tuesday 18 December 2012
The Queen capped her Diamond Jubilee year by becoming the first monarch to attend the Cabinet in more than two centuries.
Surrounded by her ministers she observed part of the weekly meeting after being welcomed to Number 10 by Prime Minister David Cameron.
Topics discussed around the famous table included Afghanistan and the economy.
But the Queen did speak twice - to wish everyone a happy Christmas and to humorously suggest the next Queen's Speech should be on the shorter side.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: "The Queen seemed very relaxed, in a very good mood and took an enormous interest in the Cabinet discussion."
He told BBC Radio 4's The World At One: "I think people were perhaps more considered in what they say, but nevertheless it was a proper discussion on the general economic situation and the inflation figures and Afghanistan."
At the start of the meeting Mr Cameron congratulated the Queen on her "fantastic" Diamond Jubilee year and said the last monarch to visit the Cabinet was believed to have been George III in 1781.
The Queen's father George VI had met with the Cabinet during the Second World War, he said, but added: "We think the last time a monarch came to the Cabinet was in 1781, during the American War of Independence.
"But I'm happy to report that relations have improved slightly since then."
After his initial remarks, the Prime Minister said they would get on with a "proper Cabinet agenda" starting with an update on parliamentary business by the Chief Whip, Sir George Young.
The Queen, who stayed for around 25 minutes of the 90 minute meeting, was given a gift by the Cabinet - 60 bespoke, hand-finished table mats with images of her official London home Buckingham Palace.
It also made a donation to the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, set up as part of the celebrations to mark her 60-year reign.
And the Foreign Office announced a large area of British Antarctica - almost twice the size of the UK - had been named Queen Elizabeth Land.
During the Queen's Downing Street visit the Cabinet posed with the monarch for a group photograph and as ministers laughed at an apparent joke she remained composed staring into the camera.
The Prime Minister's spokesman said: "The Queen was an observer at Cabinet. She did speak on two occasions, the first of which was near the end of discussion on parliamentary business, where, I think it's fair to say, very gently and very humorously, on the section regarding the next Queen's Speech encouraged it to be on the shorter rather than the longer side.
"And then on leaving Cabinet at around 10.45 she wished them all a very happy Christmas."
Leader of the Commons Andrew Lansley was the only cabinet member not to attend as he had been "unavoidably delayed," added the spokesman.
During the The World At One interview Mr Pickles dismissed suggestions that the Queen was crossing a constitutional line by attending the Cabinet.
He said: "We are her Cabinet, we operate for her. She was sat in the seat where the Prime Minister traditionally sits and, given it's her Cabinet, she can come any time she wants."
- 1 Autistic adults could take pure MDMA to 'reduce social anxiety'
- 2 Natalie Portman tells Harvard graduates: 'Accept your lack of knowledge'
- 3 Before you complain about your GP, this is what you need to know about actually doing the job
- 4 Father of 12 accused of raping, beating, starving and abusing his own children in US 'cult'
- 5 Charlie Charlie Challenge explained: not a Mexican demon being summoned — it's gravity
People are criticising Fifa World Cup sponsors with corrupt corporate logos
Natalie Portman tells Harvard graduates: 'Accept your lack of knowledge'
University league tables: Best universities for teaching standards rank Oxford, Cambridge and Coventry among top 20
Fifa corruption live: Uefa to consider pulling teams from Fifa tournaments if Blatter stays
Skull found in Spain could be the world's first-ever murder victim
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
EU referendum: David Cameron to deny EU migrants and under-18s the chance to vote
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's fastest growing full s...
£35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...
£30000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Estimating, preparation of tech...
£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will work as part of a smal...